Schools Hit Hard With Budget Cuts
Their budget dropped about $14 million this year. Now, schools are looking at scaling back in the classroom, bus routes, and the arts.
Alachua County Teacher's Union President Gunnar Paulson has worked in education for decades. And even though he's seen schools suffer severe budget cuts over the years, he says he's never felt it sting this bad.
"This is terrible. I've been in this 38 years -- nothing like this," said Paulson.
To make matters worse, Governor Charlie Crist recently announced an additional four percent cut to the Alachua County School District's operating budget. That could add up to about four million dollars.
Schools must now consider re-routing school buses, scaling back on music and art programs, and reduce the presence of media specialists at middle and high schools.
Spokesperson Jackie Johnson says the schools could re-coop from this, if citizens consider paying more taxes. The district wants to see a referendum on the November ballot that would add a one mill increase to property taxes. Johnson says that means about $10 a month for homeowners and $13 million a year for the School District.
"Reinvest some of those savings back into our schools," said Johnson. "We're not looking to add new programs. All we want to do is maintain the programs that we have."
Programs Gunnar Paulson says students and teachers will miss.
"They're not going to have the things people expect them to have and take for granted," said Paulson.
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